The Narendra Modi-led BJP Government has been in power for almost 2 years now. The thumping majority they received in the Lok Sabha was testament to the fact that India was ready for a change of epic proportions. Modi stylised his campaign run on the ‘Acche Din’ tangent, openly advocating and promising better days for the people of India once he became the Prime Minister.
The BJP Government has performed satisfactorily in the development and economic growth arena, but still faces heavy criticism from some sections of the youth population of India, who believe the BJP has contributed to the stifling of various liberties available to us. '
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been listed as a possible reason for this, with various sections of society criticising the Mohan Bhagwat-led organisation for its militant Hindutva policy and unnecessarily orthodox approach towards societal issues like homosexuality and freedom of speech.
Even if Modi is trying to make it appear that the BJP and RSS are two different entities and work in isolation, principles and the intent behind various Modi-led policies reek of RSS influence.
While the Government relies on figures of growth and percentages of different efficiency ratings to defend themselves and justify a “growing” India, it is absolutely imperative that different elements of their governing style be put under a scanner to see if they truly are taking India forward.
The prime function of any sovereign authority (at-least in India) is to ensure that exclusionary, anti-secular and arbitrary policy and practice do not percolate into the lives of the citizens of the nation. The BJP Government has failed to realise that while propagation of extremist right-wing ideology might pass off as acceptable on an organisational level, it simply cannot be done at a national level. The government is supposed to ensure that all members of the democracy feel included, especially the minorities.
In a situation where Hindu population is a majority stakeholder within the populace, protection of the rights of non-Hindus becomes vital. While it might be true that a portion of Hindu citizens find the lifestyle and conduct of other Indians offensive to the Hindu religion (consumption of beef, cow-slaughter etc.) it is imperative that the government not take sides. The principle of pandering to Hindu majority and a narrow interpretation of nationalism are visible in a few of the political events and polices of the BJP.
Freedom of Speech
The BJP Government has completely mishandled the JNU issue and has come out of it looking like it seeks to establish dictatorial rule within India. It has received severe criticism for the mistreatment of JNU Student Union Leader Kanhaiya Kumar. A large portion of the youth population was outraged by what they saw and immediately became active opponents of BJP policy and Narendra Modi. They are now principally responsible for the anti-BJP narrative in society today.
While the judiciary will ultimately decide if Kumar is guilty of sedition or not, the BJP, on a principle level, has failed to deal with the situation in the right way. Lawyers (who may have had a BJP connection) taking matters into their own hands and manhandling Kumar and other media reporters at the Patiala House Courts was an incident that will remain a thorn in the BJP’s foot for a while to come.
The result of the events of February 9th 2016 have ensured that Kanhaiya Kumar is now an icon for the same youth population that has constantly been criticising the BJP’s definition of ‘nationalism’.
Due to handicaps and lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP had to ultimately drastically amend the controversial Land Acquisition Bill to ensure it passed in the Parliament, however, the BJP is well aware of its resounding majority in the Lok Sabha and often uses this to strong-arm its way through politics.
The principle behind the BJP-led ordinance of Land Acquisition was in itself so unfair and arbitrary that it attracted massive criticism from the Opposition and led to various heated discussions within the Houses of Parliament as well.
The BJP sought to remove the vital ‘consent clause’, which would give it free-rein to grab land from landholders without seeking any permission. Through the ordinance, the Government also absolved itself from any action which may be brought against it by farmers or landowners, thus making them almost above the law.
It is truly ironic that a PM who seeks to empower the poor through ‘Jan Dhan Yojna’ and other such schemes was in-fact hell bent on ensuring the smooth passage of the ordinance, which would be nothing but detrimental to the Indian farmer community.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the BJP regime over the last 2 years has been the pin-drop silence of Mr. Modi on issues which have been plaguing the nation. He remained absolutely silent on the issue of Sushma Swaraj enabling Lalit Modi to escape India on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
He has not made any statement against the Ghar Wapsi practice carried out by the RSS, which is a blatant disregard for the interests and rights of minorities. He chose to remain mum over the issue of the suicide of Rohith Vermula as well, and still hasn’t said a word about the sedition row at JNU and the implications of governmental actions there.
For a political party that constantly berated Manmohan Singh’s silence on issues like the 2G spectrum scam etc. it is highly bewildering that Narendra Modi chooses not to speak on issues which have achieved national importance.
The narrative and discourse within media and society is one of doubt and fear over the PM’s silence on these issues and his constant aloofness is doing more harm than good to the BJP’s image in the country.
In a scenario where people look towards a leader for assurance and support, all they receive is the words of other leaders within the party who almost stubbornly support the actions of the Government without ever providing concrete proof for the same.
Inter-alia, issues like the beef ban, pornographic website ban, Smriti Irani’s dubious handling of the Hyderabad University situation are small but sure indicators of the incapability of the BJP Government to connect with the people of India.
Progress isn’t simply numbers, statistics and a graph showing economic growth. True progress is achieved when the public feels included and happy to be a part of the nation. That is, in status quo, certainly not the case and instead of feeling assured and secure about their rights and liberties, people are living in constant fear and insecurity over their actions.
The freedom to let people decide what is right and wrong has been snatched away by the Government in the most arbitrary manner. While continual trips abroad and rural development are extremely advantageous to the country, the ‘acche din’ will truly arrive when we stop living under the threat of the trampling of our basic rights and liberties.